Deepening our Connection with Nature through Education and Exploration.

Nature Studies

Our core program for 25 years, Nature Studies provides hands-on outdoor education in Juneau 3rd-5th grade classrooms.  We strive to provide every Juneau child a foundation in the outdoors, and a sense of comfort and curiosity in nature.  Our programs include science curriculum-integrated lessons with hands-on field trips in the stunning natural areas accessible to Juneau schools.  Made possible thanks to support from Discovery Southeast members, Hecla Greens Creek, and each school’s PTA.

More Information

Although Southeast Alaska has endless outdoor opportunities, many children in our community do not grow up spending time outdoors.  Nature Studies introduces children to the outdoors by taking each classroom outdoors with a skilled naturalist each season.  Additionally, the program provides natural history classroom instruction tied to the school’s science curriculum.

At a time when children are focused on more screens, for more hours, and at earlier ages, Nature Studies teaches children how to identify wildlife tracks, how to dress for the weather, and how to open their senses to the natural world.  We introduce children to pursuits that will serve them a lifetime, whether that is an interest in geology or a passion for hiking.

By targeting all 3rd-5th grade classrooms, we seek to serve the entire community, including children who otherwise would not be introduced to the outdoors.

The Nature Studies curriculum is aligned with the core content of state and school district curriculum requirements for the sciences, and also features safety training, team-building exercises, and role-play games — activities depend on the grade and the season.  Lessons include forest and watershed ecology; wildlife studies (habitats, predator/prey relationships, tracking); resident and migratory birds; the intertidal zone; forest succession; and fungus, bacteria, and invertebrates, among other subjects.

There’s no need to enroll.  Nature Studies takes place in Juneau classrooms every season, thanks to the support of Parent Teacher Associations, Discovery Southeast member donations, and the partnership of local foundations and businesses such as Hecla Green’s Creek.

Nature Studies, forest classroom

Outdoor Explorers

Discovery Southeast Summer Camp!  Week-long day camps from June to August for 7-12 year old children.  We’re outdoors everyday, with much of our time spent in the Tongass National Forest.  Each day brings a new destination and the opportunity to learn, explore, and grow outside with old friends, new friends, and Discovery Southeast Naturalists.  Our days are spent exploring outdoors: hiking, beach combing, tidepooling, meadow meandering, fort building, creating, and playing.  Made possible thanks to the US Forest Service and the City and Borough of Juneau through sales tax revenue.

2016 Weekly Sessions & Themes

Summer camp is over for 2016. Expect 2017 details in March. Check out our Discovery Days below for school year programs.

Drop-off and pick up at 8:30am and 4:00pm at Twin Lakes.  From there we will travel by 15 passenger van to our day’s destination, exploring the Tongass National Forest or other park lands in the CBJ. Itineraries change each week, and will be sent to parents in the week prior to camp.  Weekly themes indicate a general focus for the week, but all weeks prioritize open time to explore outdoors each day.

June 6 – June 10
Classic Day Camp (7-9 years old)

June 13 – June 17
Classic Day Camp (7-9 years old)
Juneau Rocks (10-12 years old)

June 20 – June 24
Classic Day Camp (7-9 years old)
Photo Camp (10-12 years old)

June 27 – June 30
Out the Road Overnight Camp (7-9 years old and 10-12 years old)

July 4 – July 8
no Discovery Southeast camp offered

July 11 – July 15
Salmon Camp (7-9 years old)
Classic Day Camp (7-12 years old)

July 18 – July 22
Salmon Camp (7-9 years old)
Photo Camp (10-12 years old)

July 25 – July 29
Classic Day Camp (7-9 years old)
Juneau Rocks (10-12 years old)

August 1 – August 5
Classic Day Camp (7-9 years old)
Classic Day Camp (7-12 years old)


Camp Descriptions:

Classic Camp (7-12): our traditional summer camp. Each day, we will hit a new trail, site, or ecosystem and explore to our hearts’ content. Join us for hiking, educational activities, nature arts, and more!
Photo Camp (10-12): work with local naturalists and photographers to see Juneau’s natural beauty through a whole new lens. We will spend the week traveling around different ecosystems, capturing the local sights. All campers will get to show off their work at Coppa during August First Friday. Please plan to bring a digital camera from home, or tell us if you would like to borrow one.
Salmon Camp (7-9): with salmon being such an important part of our culture and our economy, how could we not be interested in it? We will spend the week dissecting the fish (literally) through streamwalking, arts and crafts, fishing, and a trip to DIPACC.
Juneau Rocks (10-12): a town with a history of mining, surrounded by glacier-carved fjords, and proudly showing off its fault (lines), Juneau offers some pretty stunning geological features. We will combine exploration with indoor rock climbing to celebrate how much this town rocks.
Overnight Camp (7-12): a classic summer camp experience! We will head to the Eagle River United Methodist Camp for four days (three nights), and will balance exploration of our favorite out the road trails with camp fires, games, and arts and crafts. Our two seperate groups, ages 7-9 and 10-12, will join for all camp events as well. Additional details, including pick-up and drop-off will be sent out upon registration.

Easy to get scholarships

Scholarships are available to every family in need.  It’s easy, as you register just fill in the blank to let us know how much is the right tuition for your family.

Not sure?  Every family is different, but here’s a guide that might help; it’s based on the school’s free and reduced lunches.  If you have questions, email or call (907) 463-1500.

Scholarship guidelines

Registration and Details

Camp is full, but registrations change often; please add your child to the wait list below.

Check above for our easy to get scholarships.
Regular tuition is $240/week.  Overnight camp June 27 – 30 is $380.

Please pack a sack lunch, water, and a snack.
Bring clothes for the weather… usually raingear, boots, warm layers, and a change of clothes. *If these are hard to come by, just let us know; we have clothing to loan or give.
We expect children to behave in a manner that does not jeopardize the group’s safety or the ability of our staff to offer meaningful programs for all participants.

If you cancel more than 14 days in advance, there’s a $25 cancellation fee.
If you cancel 14 or fewer days in advance, refund is only possible if we can fill your spot, and if so there’s still the $25 cancellation fee.
If you don’t submit a completed participant agreement within 14 days of camp starting, or if a child is not allowed to participate due to behavior reasons, that is considered a cancellation 14 or fewer days in advance.

Participant Agreement, including Health and Medical Information, Risk Acknowledgement, and Legal Waivers:
After registering you’ll be emailed a link to our online Participant Agreement, which needs to be completed more than 14 days before camp starts.  We recommend you take a moment now to look over a copy, so you know you’re comfortable with the terms before registering.  Registration is voluntary, so if you don’t agree with the terms there, please don’t register, and instead let us know at


cool lets register

Outdoor Explorers, stream crossing

Discovery Days

Day-long field trips for 2nd through 5th graders during in-services or school holidays (including Spring Break).  Each day brings a new destination in Juneau’s fabulous back yard.

Families can sign up their child for Discovery Days below.  In addition, we’re offering special Discovery Days through neighborhood centers, with the intent of giving outdoor experiences to more children who would not otherwise have them.  We’re grateful for Coeur Alaska’s support allowing these additional Discovery Days!

Sliding scale tuition makes this program affordable for every family.

Dates and Registration

Discovery Days for the rest of the year will be February 21-22, March 2-3, and all of Spring Break (March 20-24).

Each day will explore Juneau’s local trails.  We’ll chose the specific location based on the weather.  8:30am pick up and 4:00pm drop off will be at a central location, usually Twin Lakes. Full tuition is $40 a day, but families can pay whatever price is right for them.

We’ll have a special Spring Break camp this year in coordination with the Juneau Douglas City Museum, exploring our favorite Juneau places, past and present!

Register for Discovery Days and Spring Break Camp here!

Discovery Days, checking the net

Outdoor Discovery Leaders

Our after school programs at both Juneau middle schools focus on wellness and outdoor recreation.  The programs are free drop-in sessions that finish in time for the late bus home.  Because time outdoors builds healthy perspectives and habits, we’ve integrated the Sources of Strength evidence-based suicide prevention program into Outdoor Discovery Leaders.  We’re grateful to the Juneau Community Foundation’s Hope Endowment for making this possible.

More Information

Middle school is an important age, when children start to explore independently.  Our program provides a bridge to lifelong healthy habits–mental and physical.

After school sessions take children outdoors to develop recreation skills and the natural sense of comfort and confidence that develop outdoors.  Developing outdoor leadership, recreation skills, and a supportive community, longer trips on weekend days are organized by program participants, and open to the entire school.

We offer two sessions at each school, one fall semester and one winter/spring semester. Occasionally we offer additional full day programs when possible.

Outdoor Discovery Leaders, tree hikers

Teacher Expeditions

Continuing education in an awesome classroom.  Teachers earn up to 3 continuing education credits (500 level courses) while exploring gorgeous areas and learning the natural history of Southeast Alaska.  Most classes are week-long summer programs, with affordable tuition thanks to generous support from our partners.

What and Why

Teacher Expeditions are designed to ensure teachers have all the tools needed to engage their students outdoors for years to come.  Working with our classrooms outdoors can invigorate lessons, bringing abstract concepts to life and engaging children who may not be as engaged indoors.

There are three main components to our courses:

  1. Time outdoors to reconnect and explore our own curiosity,
  2. Natural history science information to inform the lessons we teach,
  3. The soft skills to make teaching outdoors second nature.

June 12-16, 2016 Teacher Expedition to Inian Islands

Crossroads in Cross Sound: Nature as an intersection of People and Place

**Currently Full, Please Email to be placed on the wait list**

June 12-16, 2016, Inian Islands Institute at the Hobbit Hole in Cross Sound.  Made possible through generous support from Alaska Glacier Seafoods.

In one of the most stunning locations imaginable, Crossroads in Cross Sound explores the interaction of humans in the natural world and how we teach that to our classrooms. Teachers come away feeling a deeper connection with nature, possessing tools for working with students outdoors, and better-understanding the natural history of Southeast forests, marine environments, and even global climate change.

June 12, 2016 we’ll depart Juneau via boat for a breath-taking morning trip around the northern tip of Admiralty Island, through Icy Strait, past Glacier Bay to Cross Sound. Our class is hosted by the Inian Island Institute, at the well-known Hobbit Hole lodge. We will camp in wall tents or out buildings, but there’s also an option to reserve space at the Hobbit Hole for those interested.

We’ll be on a wilderness island, in one of the most powerful, active waterways in southeast, sandwiched between Glacier Bay National Park and the wilderness of the major Tongass islands. During our five days (four nights) at Inian Islands, Discovery Southeast Naturalists and guest instructors will lead hands-on classes exploring natural and cultural history, and there will be plenty of open time for reflection and exploration. Teachers seeking credit will have the opportunity to develop lesson plans for their classrooms. We’ll return to Juneau by boat on the 16th.

Teachers should be in appropriate physical shape both to stay at an area away from medical facilities, and to take part in full-days outdoors exploring by foot.  We’ll generally be walking with day-packs in somewhat rugged areas–usually without a trail.

The cost is deeply subsidized thanks to Discovery Southeast member donations and support from Alaska Glacier Seafoods.   The $750 tuition includes most everything: transportation, instruction, meals at the Hobbit Hole, and camping accommodations in a wall tent.   If you prefer a bed in a double occupancy room, it’s available for an additional $200. Teachers seeking the 3 continuing education credits will also need to pay University of Alaska Southeast’s $75 registration fee.

Past Teacher Expeditions (History is bound to repeat itself)

Juneau Icefield from Above and Below (2015)

In coordination with the Juneau Icefield Research Program and UAS instructors Cathy Connor and Mike Hekkers, this course allows teachers to explore Juneau’s most iconic landform.  This five day trip spends three days (two nights) at Camp 17, just off the Juneau Ice Field and Blackerby Ridge. Learn glaciology, geology, and climate studies on the ice, then spend time at sea level at one of the world’s best resources for public education on climate change, the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.  Discovery Southeast naturalist Richard Carstensen will lead lessons on the natural history of glaciers and deglaciated regions, and naturalist Steve Merli will lead sessions on working with students outdoors. Lessons emphasize how to bring the material back to the classrooms—or the classrooms to the outdoors.  Participants seeking continuing education credit will develop a final project consisting of a lesson plan for their classes.  Made possible through generous support from the Mountaineers Foundation and Northstar Trekking.  Check it out on KTOO.

Ecology “Out the Road”: Eagle River to Berner’s Bay (2015)

Out the road…like only in Juneau.  Wild watersheds with some of Southeast’s richest, most diverse old-growth habitat support brown bear and moose.  This hands-on, multidisciplinary course will prepare Juneau educators for school-year activities in the region commonly referred to as ‘out-the-road,’ from Asx’ée, twisted tree (Eagle River) to Daxanáak, between 2 points,(Berners Bay). It will deepen teachers’ understanding of the natural and cultural history of these mostly undeveloped watersheds, as well as their comfort level in bringing students here. For participants from outside the Juneau School District, our studies and explorations of this incomparable natural area will bring familiarity with the interwoven fields of geology, hydrology, ecology, and cultural studies that can be applied throughout our coastal rainforest bioregion.

Brown Bears of Admiralty Island, Pack Creek (2005-2015)

Accessing the renowned bear habitat of Pack Creek by float plane, teachers camp and kayak in this stunning, wild area for five days.  This is a behind the scenes experience of an area most tourists only get to peek into.  Teachers immerse themselves in this astounding place with a knowledgable instructor and an experienced guide, learning the natural history of the area and its bears, and exploring how to bring those lessons alive for their classes.This trip is made possible, and affordable for teachers, thanks to generous support from Coeur Alaska.

Whales of Icy Strait (2008-2014)

Study the behavior, habitat and management issues of humpback whales and other marine mammals such as sea lions, seals and killer whales while kayaking in Icy Strait and camping along the north shore of Chichagof Island. We explore the ecological connections between terrestrial and marine systems and the effects of human use patterns on the landscape through forest, meadow and stream walks in the uplands bordering these rich marine mammal feeding waters.

Seals, Glaciers, and Climate Change:  Kayaking the Wilderness of Endicott Arm (2010-2014)

Teachers spend five days kayaking and camping in Endicott Arm, with instruction from the US Forest Service.  Topics include glaciers and climate change as well as wilderness and wildlife, with a focus on seals and pupping.  Endicott Arm is an intimate, gorgeous, remote, and stunning location to learn about wilderness, glaciers, and climate change.

Special Projects

Discovery Southeast is proud to offer custom educational or research programs for groups or projects.  Our naturalists are excellent educators and extremely knowledgeable.  If you have a project or program that you’d like our assistance with, please contact us.

Some recent programs are below:

Special Classes

We’re happy to offer special programs for groups.  Past examples include:

  • Tracking and habitat courses for Juneau Community Charter School’s winter camp.
  • Afternoons outdoors for Big Brothers and Big Sisters matches.
  • SeaWeek education for all Juneau 3rd graders (salmon and water focus, at the Mendenhall Glacier) and 4th graders (shorebird focus at Fish Creek and the Airport Dike trail).

What can we do with your favorite group?

Cultural Programs

Discovery Southeast has been proud to partner with Goldbelt Heritage Institute and Hoonah Indian Association to offer place based cultural programs for local high school groups.  The curriculum explores the question “Why do we live here?” and has taken students afield in Northern Lynn Canal and Glacier Bay.

Extended Recreation

In the past, our week-long trips have allowed children to paddle the cross admiralty route.  More recently, we’ve supported AWARE’s (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies)  ReBound trips, which offer leadership-building opportunities for rural youth.  These programs are currently irregular, however, we intend to build them into consistent opportunities.

Research and Mapping

Discovery Southeast and lead naturalist Richard Carstensen have undertaken many mapping and GIS projects illuminating the natural areas we love.  For an example, check out the City and Borough of Juneau’s Juneau Trails Project.

If you’re excited to develop educational materials, mapping, or curriculum on a place, let us know!

Array of channel types at Kadashan River. Classification follows Paustian (ed) A channel-type user’s guide for the Tongass National Forest (2010) R10 Technical Paper 26.

Great Programs Thanks to Great Partners

  • All
  • Organization Type
    • Foundation
    • Local Business
    • Government
    • Inspirational Individuals
  • Partnership Level
    • Discovery Circle
    • Expedition Leader
    • Trailblazer
    • Guide
    • Explorer
    • Sponsor
Discovery Southeast Members!
Discovery Circle Partner
Juneau Community Foundation
Discovery Circle Partner
Discovery Circle Partner
City and Borough of Juneau
Discovery Circle Partner
US Forest Service
Discovery Circle Partner
S.B. Foundation
Discovery Circle Partner
UnCruise Adventures
Discovery Circle Partner
Alaska Conservation Foundation
Expedition Leader Partner
Coeur Alaska
Trailblazer Partner
First Bank
Trailblazer Partner
Leighty Foundation
Trailblazer Partner
Mountaineers Foundation
Trailblazer Partner
Above and Beyond Alaska
Guide Partner
Gastineau Guiding Company
Guide Partner
Juneau Emergency Medical Associates
Guide Partner
Alaska Glacier Seafoods
Guide Partner
Northstar Trekking
Guide Partner
Shattuck & Grummett Insurance
Guide Partner
Sheinberg Associates
Guide Partner
Skaggs Foundation
Guide Partner
Alaska Zipline Adventures
Explorer Partner
Mark Kelley Photography
Explorer Partner
Mountain Travel Sobek & Alaska Discovery
Explorer Partner
Sockeye Cycle
Explorer Partner
Pack Creek Bear Tours
Explorer Partner
Wm Spear Design
Explorer Partner
K&L Distributors
Explorer Partner
Foggy Mountain Shop
Explorer Partner
Gustavus Inn